The Kentucky State Senate failed to pass legislation requiring a constitutional amendment on any expansion of gambling in the state. The vote was along strict party lines. Republican David Williams, Senate President, who sponsored the bill, said he opposes the expansion of gambling in Kentucky, but that his bill would have let the voters decide the issue.
Democratic Senator Kathy Stein called the bill a “referendum” and stated that Williams had said more than once that Kentucky was not a “referendum state”.
Williams has also stated that legislative approval was all that was required for a gambling expansion in the state.
A bill calling for a constitutional amendment on racetrack video lottery terminals is still in the Senate Committee on State and Local Government. Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, sponsor of the bill, says that breeders and horsemen support the constitutional approach to expanding gambling and that his bill “will be considered on its own merits at a time to be determined”. He accused the democrats of block voting to keep the people of the state from being able to make the decision on William’s bill.
Democrats and leaders of the horse industry in Kentucky have said that the constitutional approach to gambling expansion does not offer the horse industry the immediate assistance it needs.
A bill sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo was sent to the House Committee on Licensing and Occupations on January 21. The bill would authorize racetrack video lottery terminals. A similar bill died in Senate committee last year.